Today’s Austin360 cover story was about the 175 things that our writers love the most about Austin. A lot of my reasons, unsurprisingly, have to do with the thriving beer and cocktail communities, from the cozy mezcal bar above Whisler’s on the east side to the city’s very first craft beer bottle shop, WhichCraft, on South Lamar. Narrowing my favorites down to a list of 10 was incredibly hard to do, testament to just how much Austin has to offer, but all of them are particularly near and dear to me. (Note that the list, save for the number one spot of Hi Hat Public House, isn’t in any particular order, however.)
We’ve also compiled a photo gallery of 170 of these things, so have fun exploring our favorites.
What do you think? Do you have a top 10 list of your favorite things about Austin, and what would be on it?
- Sipping on any one of the 24 thoughtfully curated craft beers on tap at Hi Hat Public House. This little eastside bar, with always friendly service and a menu of gourmet comfort food, helped develop my love of beer and discover the welcoming community surrounding it here. Try Hi Hat on a Tuesday, when you can get two tacos and a pint for $10. (hihatpublichouse.com)
- Hiking at Emma Long Metropolitan Park. The dog-friendly Turkey Creek Trail is especially a joy to explore during the quiet early morning hours when the world is waking up around you, the sun just beginning to peek through the trees and the birds starting to serenade you with their song. (austintexas.gov)
- Even on summer scorchers, dozens of people will cluster around the benches outside Jester King Brewery, in the Dripping Springs area, enjoying whatever new farmhouse ale (a peach sour? a gose-like beer with oyster mushrooms and alderwood smoked sea salt?) the inventive brewery has created. These always pair best with the wood-fired pies of Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza right next door. (jesterkingbrewery.com)
- Any one of the restaurants along Manor Road’s thriving row of eateries are a treat, but I like to visit School House Pub for a beer (or any one of their school-themed cocktails) with mac-and-cheese on weekdays or El Chile for a brunch of chilaquiles verdes and a spicy, salt-rimmed Bloody Mary on weekends. (schoolhousepub.com, elchilecafe.com)
- Zipping along RM 2222 between MoPac and Loop 360. This scenic drive reminds you to look up and enjoy the ride every now and then — a very fast one, that is. During rush hour, it’s also a breather from all the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the roads it connects.
- Visit Whisler’s on Thursday through Saturday nights and chances are Cesar Aguilar is there in a jaunty hat to show off the cozy tribute to Oaxaca and mezcal in the upstairs room. Mezcalaria Tobala is his pride and joy — and after sipping mezcal in clay copitas while music plays through vintage speakers, you’ll understand why. (whislersatx.com)
- Austin restaurants have plenty of outdoor patios, but one of my favorites is Blue Dahlia’s shady back patio, something of a secret garden that will transport you while you’re feasting on the bistro’s light French cuisine. (bluedahliabistro.com.)
- Feel like rum? How about absinthe? The downtown bars Peche and Pleasant Storage Room both have their specialties, and best of all, they’re right next door to each other. (pecheaustin.com, pleasantrumbar.com.)
- If you’re looking for a solid selection of craft beer — from the rare release to the comforting mainstay — the knowledgeable and cheerful Jody Reyes, Nic De La Rosa and Zach Flaten at WhichCraft Beer Store will help you find what you’re looking for and probably talk you into other treats, too. (whichcraftbeerstore.com)
- Although local brewers and bars constantly offer top-notch new brews, Austin Beer Week at the end of October is when they really show off, with events and tastings galore. From Oct. 24 through Nov. 2 this year, it’s also curiously timed with a lot of anniversary parties. Just be sure to pace yourself. (austinbeerweek.com)